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  • Death of Frustration in Parenting

    Can I be honest for like five minutes??? Transparent even??? The last week and a half of parenting has been rough. When I say rough, I mean rough... like in all caps, bold, italic, size 25 point font... like

     

     

    R O U G H  

     

    The last week and a half just seemed like we were dealing with fight after fight after fight between the two kids. Back talking. Argue with everything we tell or ask of them. Kids being selfish and angry and whiny and... you get the point. It hasn't been all "our lives are so Instagram and Facebook perfect and fun" kind of stuff around our home.

     

    The last week and a half has actually been draining.

     

    D R A I N I N G

     

    It felt like we were living in and parenting out of frustration the vast majority of the day. And by the time bedtime rolled around, all we could manage to do was collapse on the couch and stare in total silence.

     

    And. I. Hate. Living. In. Frustration. It's just, well...

     

    F R U S T R A T I N G

     

    And living and parenting that way is simply not healthy... For me. For Jami. And for our kids.

     

    Then it hit me Saturday afternoon where most of my moments of clarity hit me... in the shower.

     

    It does absolutely no good to get frustrated.

     

    I know... mind blowing, right! Boom! Mind. Blown. It does absolutely no good to get frustrated in parenting my kids. It doesn't do any good to get frustrated when they bicker and fight with each other. When they whine during chores. Or when they throw fits.

     

    It's so simple. Yet in that moment, if felt like a huge revelation. And in that moment, all of the frustration that I felt in the last week and half washed away. In that moment, I realized that, if I don't want my kids to live and relate in frustration, I can't live and parent in and out of frustration. It was a moment of re-focus in how I parent. It was a moment where I realized that if I want my kids to change, I first need to change. And so in that moment, I decided that I will be intentional about doing my best to NOT get frustrated in parenting my two kids.

     

    Will there be times where I will start to get frustrated?

     

    A B S O L U T E L Y

     

    It's only been a day and a half, and I've already felt myself on the edge of frustration. But it's in those moments where I've taken a five second mental timeout to re-focus my energy and thoughts in order to be a better parent and life example for my kids. It's gonna take me being intentional about not allowing myself to get frustrated. But that's what my kids deserve, me being intentional about parenting and leading by example. And in doing so, I think all of our lives will be lived in less frustration so we can get back to posting how perfect our lives are on Instagram and Facebook.

     

     

  • End of Life As We Know It

    You know what's right around the corner don't you?

     

     

    What's right around the corner for our family amounts to the end of life as we know it. World War Three. The apocolypse. Dooms Day. They don't have anything on what's right around the corner for us. It's bigger, scarier than anything Will Smith has fought in any of his alien movies.

     

    Independence Day - It’s got nothin’ on it.

    Men In Black 1, 2 AND 3 - Forget about it. Not even close.

     

    So what's around the corner that could be so bad you dare to ask?

     

    School! Not just school! The first day of school! And not just the first day of school!

     

    The first morning of waking up to school!

     

    Soon, very soon, what was the sound of nothingness at 6:45 a.m. will be changed by the sound of alarms going off. They're the alert that summer is officially over. That sleeping in till 9:00 a.m. or noon has officially ended.

     

    Soon, the little ones who were so cute and cuddly while they sleep will morph into grumpy little monsters who beg and plead not to get up. Their fire breath angrily cursing the need to wake up. Their hot morning breath burning the eyes of the ones bending over their bed to "not-ever-so-gently" shake them awake. Their feet dragging down the stairs to the kitchen like mummies who have just awoken from their sarcophagus.

     

    We know the day is coming. So we should be planning. We should be starting the earlier bedtime. But we don't. Instead, we try to squeeze the last few late nights out of the summer. We try to make the most out of what's left of vacation with late-night movies, and trips to the South Bend Silver Hawks. We live in denial of the early mornings that are soon to come and try to mask the impending doom with “fun” back-to-school-shopping trips for shoes, clothes, supplies... all the while knowing the agony to come in the next few days.

     

    If we were smart, we would be putting our kids through OTA’s (Organized Team Activities) like the NFL does with their teams – prepping them for the battle that is called early mornings. Going to bed earlier. Waking up earlier. Starting homework-like activities.

     

    But we’re not. And we don’t. After all, it’s still summer. Who wants to do that crap when there’s still summer-time life left. Not me. Not my kids. So for the next few days, we will party like Bryan Adam’s “Summer of 69” song, making these last few summer days the best days of our lives. All the while knowing what lies ahead next week, because nothin’ can last forever, forever, no!

     

    Not even summer.

     

    So kids, enjoy it while it lasts...

     

     

  • Happy Birthday Morgan Grace Ruth

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    Morgan Grace Ruth. It's 8:19 p.m. on February 18, 2014. I'm sitting downstairs listening to you cough as you try to fall to fall asleep. I wrote last month that there are very few dates that I can say have changed my life... and your birthday is yet another date.

     

    I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever have a little girl. I come from a family of all boys. So, while I wanted to be able to have a girl, I never thought I would actually have one. And then, came you. The day I found out that your mommy and I were having you was awesome.

     

    Morgan Grace Ruth, you are beautiful like your mommy. You're smart. Funny. Your laugh is contagious. And the way you can change your facial expressions is priceless. I love letting you dress up in the clothes you want to wear. You have been able to match your outfit for a few years now. Yet, when you get in your fun, creative mood, you put together outfits that simply make me smile. You are my girly-girl. And in the same breath, you are my strong gymnast, able to do the perfect hand thingy after you complete a move and then climb up on a rope to the top of the ceiling.

     

    You are giving and forgiving. You are kind. Able to make friends with anyone. And able to remember the names of everyone.

     

    I love that I get to carry you up to your room every night.

     

    Morgan Grace Ruth. You are seven now. SEVEN. And even though you are seven and getting to be a big girl, you will forever be my little Mo. My baby girl. Morgan, we are so very lucky to be your mommy and daddy.

     

    Happy birthday!

     

    Love,

    Mommy and Daddy

     

     

     

  • The Belly Buldge

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    So, the last few evenings after dinner, Morgan has taken it upon herself to be my personal trainer. Why? Well, as only she can do, she has begun the regular ritual of walking over to me and pats my belly while telling me I need to workout and get rid of the spare tire with the same look as she has in the photo above. She has gone so far as to design a workout for me which consists of sit-ups, push-ups and something she calls "The Slide." The slide is where I stand up, grab Mo's hands and slide her under my legs then back up throwing her in the air. "The Slide" is actually a very good workout. So, needless to say, when Jami asked if I wanted to join a gym, I said yes. But I'll still be doing "The Slide"... because I love listening to Mo giggle like crazy as she's flying in the air.

     

    And no, I will not be doing the bare-chested, arms in the air before/after shot...

     

    Nobody needs to see that...

     

    Nobody.

     

     

  • 7 Characteristics of a Great Leader

    I have always, since I can remember, been fascinated by the idea of leadership. We've all got pictures of people that pop in our head when we hear the word leader from Walt Disney to Colin Powell. There are a ton of books written on the topic for which I've read many. But I think I'm done with leadership books. Because when I sit down and really think about what it means to be a leader... a leader of an organization, team, corporation or family... I believe that there are seven characteristics that a great leader demonstrates.

     

    L - LOVE - Love for people in general. Love for the people they are leading. And love for the mission/vision they are leading.

     

    E - ENCOURAGER -  Encourage people in success and failure. In triumphs and challenges.

     

    A - ACCOUNTABLE - Not only are they holding others accountable, they hold themselves accountable.

     

    D- DETERMINED - They push through to not only see the mission and vision succeed. They push through to help their people succeed. And they push through when things get hard.

     

    E - EXPECT - They have high expectations. They expect great things to happen. They expect challenges to come. And they expect the best in each and everyone of their people.

     

    R - RESPECT - Not only do people respect them (that's a given), they respect their people. They respect their people's time.

     

    S - SERVE - Sure, the leader is leading his/her people. But the great leader is looking for ways to serve those they lead. Not only is it the right thing to do, it will foster good will and teamwork within the team, organization, family, etc.

     

    Everyone is a leader in some respect. You may not be leading an organization, but if you're a mom or dad, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife, or friend... you're a leader.

     

    So lead well.

     

     

     

  • From the Canal to the Caribbean

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    This is one of my favorite shots from our trip to Cancun a few years ago. It's a canal in a local shopping center. It. Was. Really. Cool. But as cool as that was, that wasn't the water we came to see and experience. There was something bigger and better... the Caribbean. The warm, color-filled, enormous ocean. That's the water we really wanted to dive in to.

     

    You see, this canal doesn't only exist in Mexico. It exists in my life as well. I make canals all the time. I make canals when I try to deal with stress on my own. I make canals in my life when I try to live life without Jesus as the center. I make canals in my life when I think I've got all the answers. When I leave Him out of my everyday life and only go to church on the weekend.

     

    But Jesus said that whoever believes in him will have living water flow from within them. [John 7v38] AND check this out...

     

    A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. - John 10v10

     

    You see, my life without Jesus is just like the canal in Mexico. Sure, I can live it. And it may be fun and look pretty. But there's way more than that. My life without Jesus is a canal. But my life with Jesus is just like the Caribbean. Jesus came so that I can experience a life that is bigger and better and more colorful than I could ever imagine. Real. Eternal. Peace-filled. Grace-filled. Love-filled. That's life with Jesus.

     

    Dive in today.

     

     

  • The Things that are Said About You

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    There are a lot of things that people say we are.

     

    Fat.

     

    Too Skinny.

     

    Stupid.

     

    Worthless.

     

    Dumb.

     

    Crazy.

     

    Weird.

     

    Nerd.

     

    Bastard.

     

    Son-of-bitch.

     

    Words are real. Words hurt. Especially when they come from family. Friends. Co-workers. Bosses. Parents. And these words stick around... for a long time. With the exception of the word "Fat", these are all words that I experienced as a kid.

     

    And while what people say we are can carry a ton of weight, there's Someone else who has something to say about who we are.

     

    God says we are...

     

    "I am a child of God" - John 1v12

     

    "I am God's workmanship" - Ephesians 2v10

     

    "I am loved and chosen by God" - 1 Thessalonians 1v4

     

    "I am a citizen of heaven" - Philippians 3v20

     

    "I am holy and blameless before God" - Ephesians 1v4

     

    And so are you... in Jesus. Yes it matters what people say who you are. Yes it hurts. But it matters more what God says that you are. And what He says and offers has the ability to cover and mend the hurts when you choose Jesus.

     

     

     

  • Where You At Yo?

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    But the Lord called to the man, "Where are you?" - Genesis 3v9

     

    I love this verse. Probably one of my all time favorites... God asking Adam where Adam's at. Are you kidding me? Love it. God knew where Adam was at. God always knows where we are at - physically, mentally, spiritually, socially... etc. I think that God wanted Adam to know where Adam was at... i.e. hiding like a little school girl in the bushes. God knows everything about us... our ins and outs. And He wants us to know where we are at - physically, spiritually, emotionally... etc. So that we can celebrate if we're good. And so that we can ask for and get help if we're not-so-good. So... God to me: "Where you at, Todd?" Me: "Uh, in my office." God: "Smartass." Me: "Ok, got your point God."

     

    So, where are you at physically, spiritually, emotionally?